Comments about ‘Duce's Wild: Abolishing the 80/20 rule with church service’

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Published: Friday, Dec. 13 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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West Jordan, Utah

Your 80/20 article is right on! I've come to adopt a mantra in Church service, "The purpose of a ward dinner is NOT to feed the ward". Meaning, activities, programs and the like are the tools we use to "invite all to Come Unto Christ and be Perfected in Him". If we get lost in the task (Scout camp, for example) we can loose the purpose (creating relationships between leaders and youth, teaching youth leadership skills, showing by example spirituality and prayer throughout the day to scouts who lack an example at home, etc.). When we allow the 20% do do all the work we deprive them and us, the blessings that come from discipleship; we deny them an opportunity for the Spitit to have influence in their lives. Our role as leaders is to create an environment where the Lord can have influence. As a former non-engaged 80%'re, I'm grateful to an Elders Quorum President who believed in me and challenged me to something better.

Lake Havasu City, AZ

Service in the church, a key to gaining a testimony. Many Years ago I was a Sunday School teacher of a class mostly boys who were determined to get rid of the teacher, which I was advised of when I was called. My challenge was to help these young pre teen boys. So on Christmas we had a party at my house, only for the party activity we made home made cookies, and bought some hankies, cost each child a quarter, and took them to the local nursing home where we sang to the members. One Brother who was totally paralized from the waist down, asked them if they new "Have I Done Any good in the World Today". Of course these brazen boys new that song, and as they sang the tears rolled down that good mans cheeks as well as mine. We then went back to my home and had refreshments. The next Sunday I was advised that tha was the best Christmas Party they had ever had.. The Blessings of Service no matter what your calling. What wonderful memories

Jace the Ace
Stratford, CA

I think 80/20 is generous in our ward. Probably 80/15 at most. It is so bad in Primary that there is a permanent list of responsible people that are willing to substitute when teachers just don't show up on Sunday morning. Every week there are a couple that just don't show up. I had been the executive secretary in the ward for two bishops and finally got a calling as the cub master that I loved. Unfortunately, my replacement did a horrible, horrible job and then moved. Less than 1 year after being in a calling I loved I was put back in the old calling and was faced with a mess. The bishop said he needed someone who he knew would do the job right. Well out of the whole ward I guess I was all he could find? I tell people I'm going to die in this calling because they are afraid to let someone else try it again. Service is supposed to be uplifting and rewarding but when it comes to ward callings it becomes a chore when only a few are doing most of the heavy lifting.

Fern RL

This was an excellent article. Thanks for publishing it.

I am reminded that the Lord seeks the one lost sheep and challenges us to do the same. It is each one that matters and the whole sum adds up to 100%. We learn by serving and by being served. No one has it all, but the sooner we learn what is needful for us, the better off we are.

Tremonton, UT

Thanks for your column. But now I feel even more guilty like there's never enough in the church that I shouldn't be doing. I would caution everyone that just because some people attend every church function and are heavily involved doesn't necessarily mean they have it all together at home, in their personal life or conduct, or in what really counts. There is far too much judging going on in our ward subcultures based on appearances, and not enough loving. What's essential is often invisible to the eye and for other people to judge. Somedays, it's all we can do to just hold it all together, let alone take the homeless blankets and dinner.

midvale guy

It is called the 80/20 rule because give or take a few percent it is what ends up happening. I am no longer a Mormon but the same rule applies in my church as well. Good luck on changing those statistics. If we can have at effect on them more people will come to God.

Clifton Palmer McLendon
Gilmer, TX

"... making each service provider truly vital regardless of their age or skill set."

This phrase contains a glaring pronoun-antecedent disagreement.

English grammar states that pronouns and their antecedents must agree in number and, when the gender is common (when it can be either masculine or feminine), the masculine gender is used.

"Each service provider" is singular; "their" is plural.

The phrase should read either "... making each service provider truly vital regardless of HIS age or skill set." or "... making ALL service PROVIDERS truly vital regardless of their AGES or skill SETS."

Provo, UT

The "80%" is, in part, made up of those the 20% are rescuing; those looking to find their way back. Many of those who are "active" by virtue of attending meetings are nonetheless struggling in very real ways to just hold on to any shred of hope that attending church can offer. I don't find business terms very helpful to the real work of shepherding, rescuing, and uniting a people in love. I have lived in communities where 90% are caring for each other and seeking out the lost sheep. I have also lived in areas where the gracious shepherds are few and the straying sheep are abundant. Adding one additional shepherd to that unit is a remarkable blessing. If we include the call to spread the gospel to all the world, and therefore consider all of God's children in the equation, the 80/20 rule hardly reflects the challenge that lies before us. An 80/20 evaluation in the Lord's Kingdom tends to create "Ites" who express their burden and elevate their own importance. I have to remind myself that since God stands behind his shepherds, "they that are with us" will always be an overwhelming majority."

Allen, TX

I can't tell you how man times I have had this conversation with my wife. We have been in Presidencies at the same time for most of our 25 years of marriage - usually with a couple of other callings tacked on for good measure.

In our current Ward, the same people are usually rotated from one Presidency to another. You never heard of burn out? I am so jealous of my son, who just got called to teach the 4-year-olds.

But I won't say how I would do things if I were Bishop - heaven forbid that should happen ever!

Puyallup, WA

I had no idea about the 80/20 rule. I gather it is that 20% do the work of the Kingdom? There are just some people who at any given time have their life together enough that they can serve. I've often been the person who had nothing left to give. I would like to be more useful, I just really am tangled up in home/private responsibilities. I wonder if there is a lot of people like me; just folks stumbling along, trying to keep up and do a decent job here and there? I like to re-read Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson when I feel I will never be good enough. And I like to re-read Following Christ, by same author when I find myself getting over critical of fellow Christians. Both books help me calm down!!!

Syracuse, UT

I think it is more like 60% do the work and 40% do some of it. That has been my experience throughout my 70 plus years.

Tucson, AZ

I see this happen all the time. I have volunteered at ward functions because that is what I and everyone else should try to do. The responsibility for this 80/20 falls directly on the Leadership of the Stake and Wards. I notice only people living in the influential neighborhoods or family members get called to positions and they rotate from one to the next. There are subcultures and clicks in the church and it is sad. I substituted for almost a year in Primary and everyone assumed including myself I would get the calling. Yet I didn't, the parents and Primary President didn't understand why, neither did my class. There are a lot of people who would love to get a calling, lets try to get fresh blood in the church positions and actually call people who don't live in the influential neighborhoods and are converts or are the only member of their family in the church. This would help with retention of new converts too.

Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO

Actually the experience has been, woefully, that in the the church 10% do 90% of the work... or more that in a regular ward ten families, one of them, pretty much be involved in anything you could name or think of... the people always called on for anything. Have seen some of these families move from the wards we've been in and seen another family move in that takes their place... you, someone new that you barely know and all of the sudden their fingers are in every pie... saying this as good thing... but also that it would nice to be asked to serve as well.

The other thing is pigeon-holing... once a clerk always a clerk... YM/YW leader in former ward... same calling this ward... scouting for life...

Antioch, CA

I grew up with parents who taught me that you should never turn down a calling. If you have a legitimate concern about your ability to serve (like health problems) then you should let the bishopric know, and ask them to consider that. I have to admit that it was quite disillusioning for me when I learned that the Bishopric has a hard time finding people to serve. I think accepting hard callings is a way for us to demonstrate our faith in God. Do we, or do we not believe He will help us? Do we, or do we not believe in sustaining our bishopric; because accepting callings is part of sustaining them. I have been thinking a lot recently about the concept of "Priestcraft". It would be such a conflict of interest for those serving in the church if they were doing it for money. When we volunteer our time, our hearts are set on serving The Lord, and we aren't worried about what we will get out of it. So in our religion we believe in a lay ministry; one where people serve willingly without pay. Or do we? .....

Lancaster, CA

@Brant T....I agree with you about STP...same ten people. Our ward and stake are so infultrated with nepotism that it's very disheartening for those of us who are "not related." My husband and I have been in 2 leadership positions at the same time and EXTREMELY pigeonhold. I taught R.S. for 8 years, him, Priesthood for 10, I've played the piano in R.S. for 8 years, and now I'm in Sunday school "which is my favorite calling) for going on 3. I'm still the RS pianist and am being strongly considered for Primary pianist instead, because I need a change of scenery. I wish more people would be willing to serve. So many in our ward will only serve in certain callings, with certain people and will do nothing publicly like pray or give talks.

I do appreciate the fresh perspective on this SS topic though. I might even use it for my lesson on Sunday.

Corvallis, OR

I would be interested in knowing how you calculated the 80/20 rule. Is it an actually calculated statistic? Or is it a fabricated number for rhetorical purposes?

Duck, WV

Why do people think that the 20% who go all out in service have it all together and are not making huge sacrifices in time, energy, and money to do it? I'm not even going to list the problems we are dealing with at home and in our family but just say that we are under just as much pressure emotionally and physically as those who use those pressures to not serve.

This I do know. We are blessed by our service and grateful for it. But it is a sacrifice. And if you choose not to make it, we may sometimes notice that and not think much of your excuses. We also are dealing with multiple surgeries, children with serious health problems, tight budgets, cars that need major repairs and bouts of depression. We just don't use those as excuses not to serve.

Provo, UT

"And if you choose not to make it, we may sometimes notice that and not think much of your excuses. We also are dealing with multiple surgeries, children with serious health problems, tight budgets, cars that need major repairs and bouts of depression. We just don't use those as excuses not to serve."

On the other hand, I have sat through far too many unprepared, listless, poorly planned and just downright poor quality Church talks, meetings, lessons, and activities, most often because people who were under pressures did not have or give time and effort to do the job well.

Perhaps it is better for some people to use some discretion and not accept callings when they know they cannot give The Lord their best efforts. Is failing to give your best really a "worthy" offering? Is being stoically obedient in accepting all callings all the time really superior? Maybe we would all do well to humbly consider that there may be others out there who could do the job much better than we, in our overwhelmed, pressured, stressed state are doing.

Front Row Family
Eagle Mountain, UT

Sometimes I am doing the work and sometimes not as much as I know I should. I am grateful to all neighbors of any church that see that when I am down lend a hand. Sometimes I am able to return the favor. My last name is very near the end of the alphabet so I made it my goal that if I was ever called to help out in any way, (the person must be really desperate) so I try to say yes when possible. Not over extending myself, but trying to give back where I know so many have given to me... I am also grateful to people who volunteer without having to be asked. Some think they should be asked. Not my perspective. So thank you to all those who pick up a snow shovel without being asked, or making cookies, not because they have an assigned friend, but because they care.


I like it when people with a testimony of the Gospel are called to key positions and when people with a sound understanding of the Gospel and the scriptures are called to teach the Gospel Doctrine class.

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